Police apology over caution for woman who burned taxi driver's turban

Police have apologised after a woman who tore off a Sikh taxi driver's turban and burned it in front of him, was given a caution.

After an eight-month campaign by the Sikh community in Bristol and later by the charity Sari, the case was heard in court and led to a conviction.

Avon and Somerset police admitted they should have charged the offender rather than hand out a police caution.

The victim has called for assurances that police take hate crime seriously.

The victim, who does not wish to be identified, said: "This attack has affected the whole of my family, the children are very, very scared, my wife is afraid to let me go out of the house, thinking that I am going to be attacked again."

'Horrendous' attack

The attack happened in September 2013 in Bishopsworth when a group of women wanted a free cab ride home to Swindon as they did not have enough money.

But when asked to leave the cab they refused and attacked the driver, racially abusing him before ripping off his turban and burning it.

Interim director of Sari, Alex Raikes, said: "They [the police] didn't appreciate that it is like an attack on a person, for a Sikh it is very similar to a serious sexual offence, it's horrendous, it's a massive impact."

Two arrests were made but the police officer settled on a caution to one of the offenders.

Ch Supt Jon Reilly, Area Commander for Bristol, said: "The officer made a judgement call that a caution was the appropriate disposal which is a form of sanction, but actually that judgement was wrong and it should have been put before court."

He said the subsequent delay was due to rescinding the caution and waiting for the case to be heard in court.

The defendant pleaded guilty to a public order offence on 21 November at Bristol Magistrates' Court.

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